Update on the Home Front  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

Let's leave cyberpunk behind for a moment, and go back to home decorating. When I started the blog back up, I had said that I had done a few things to the house during my silence. One of the things I had done, last September, was add a Chinese dragon to the foyer. I found it at a flea market in Panama City Beach during a family reunion.

This gets me closer to finishing the foyer. I need a shoe rack or bench to go along the dividing wall, and I want to replace the light with something less 'middle America suburbia' and more 'far-off, exotic lands.' That will pretty much complete my foyer.

I've also replaced my dining room set with a set my dad gave me when he replaced his dining room. The table fits perfectly with the old world occident-meets-orient look I'm going for. The chairs are definitely a more retro-modern style, but the with the color and pattern, actually seem to fit in well. It doesn't quite match my living room chair, but it doesn't really clash either.

The last thing I got for my living room is an Italian Map Globe bar. It was a Christmas gift from my parents. It looks good there next to the armor. I ought to hang the sword on the wall, but propped in the corner like that, gives it more of a used look instead of display, like I just got back from adventuring and haven't put my gear away. Which is more or less how it got there, after a Renaissance faire.

The globe opens up. The crystal was another Christmas present, this time from grandma. There are wine glasses, highball, and double old fashioned glasses in there.

Those are the big changes in the last year or so. I've printed out photos from some of my trips to hang on the wall, along with some souvenirs, but I haven't gotten around to hanging them yet. Or even finding suitable picture frames. That will probably be the next thing I do, but I will have to make sure it's in keeping with the old world style.

Pizza in 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed  

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I was perusing ThinkGeek today trying to find a suitable T-shirt for my cyberpunk costume. I want something similar to what Jayne wore on Firefly. ThinkGeek has some of Jayne's shirts, but I'm making a cyberpunk character, not a Firefly character.

But I want something in that style; a logo or brand from a fake universe. I found some good ones, but for the most part, the brand is from some recognizable property in geek culture. This Hyrule shirt is a great example of the style I want, but with a recognizably non-cyberpunk logo. So unless I want to be a gamer cosplaying as a cyberpunk criminal, Zelda fanboy, it's just not gonna work. And if I'm going to be that silly, I should just make a steampunk Link...

Wait, that sounds awesome. If I don't get to it this year, that will definitely be next year's costume.

At any rate, I eventually found this: a Cosa Nostra deliverator shirt. If that means something to you, then you know why this is the perfect shirt for a cyberpunk outfit. Everybody else, Cosa Nostra is a pizza delivery chain run by the mafia in Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash. I hadn't intended my cyberpunk character to be from any particular universe. In fact, I was generally thinking Shadowrun most of the time. But an actual cyberpunk T-shirt for my cyberpunk costume? Perfect. Combined with some urban camo pants, and I think the costume is shaping up nicely.

Also, if you are a science fiction fan, I enjoyed Snow Crass and recommend you go read it.

As for the gun, I'm reinforcing the cardboard with extra glue so it doesn't peel. It's a slow process, waiting for the glue to dry, so I don't have enough done to do a whole post on it yet.

Making a Cyberpunk Pistol: Part 1  

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While my enthusiasm for the project is still high, I've started making a cyberpunk gun. I've decided to make a semi-automatic pistol. Cyberpunk is generally not so far into the future that everybody has lasers and other exotic weaponry, so a pistol feels about right.

A little digging around the interwebs and I found a couple articles at Instructables, one for a cyberpunk shotgun and another for a steampunk rifle, both by the same guy. They are both good references and will be influencing my construction.

The first step is to design the basic gun. I want an over sized and blocky gun, that would fit in a high-tech but dystopian future.

This is my basic layout. A pretty straightforward, pistol shape. The block under the barrel is for mounting sensors, stabilizers, or anything else I think of before I get around to making them. I've not yet designed anything, but I'm envisioning several tubular items down there.

I cut it out of corrugated cardboard. Then I used that piece to trace out three more pieces.

Then I glued the four pieces together using PVA glue. It's taped together right now until the glue dries. I also changed the shape of the outer pieces a little. I did that to break up the shape and give the gun some overall texture. Otherwise it would be too blocky.

The next step will be to fill in cardboard with glue to help really hold it all together. I'll also need to trim and smooth the edges, and cover everything with a thin card stock or metal tape (an idea used in the shotgun above).

I also need to add a trigger and trigger guard, stiffen the beaver tail, and round out the grip some. I will eventually wrap the grip in leather or electrical tape. I'll need to make the under barrel attachments, and add various odds and ends to the gun to give it some texture, so that it's not just flat. And then paint it all.

I will not be able to work on the gun everyday, and some days will be spent scrounging for parts for the next step. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Cyberpunk Gear  

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Now I need to think about what gear my character would carry around with him. This is where the Shadowrun rule books would come in handy, because they have tables and tables of weapons, equipment, cybernetics, and the like that I can look through for ideas on what to make for the costume.

Since I'm making a shooter, one these items needs to be a gun. A handgun in a holster would be the easiest thing to carry around, but a carbine or an assault rifle would also be suitable for a cyberpunk gun bunny. I think I will make the handgun first, and if time permits, or maybe for next year's Dragon*Con, make a big gun.

I think headset or goggles with some sort of targeting array would also go well with the fire support character. In fact, I could turn it into a fancy sensor suite with radar, sonar, lasers, and cameras in it.

For the infiltrator side of things, a utility belt full of goodies sounds about right. Some of those electronic key cards, and a device suitable for picking electronic locks would make for a good start. Other interesting devices that would be worth making would be a grappling hook gun, a sensor jammer, additional sensors that don't fit on the headset, a roll-up computer screen, and even simple things like a flashlight, respirator, and tools. I could probably just take a bunch of the tools I'm going to have to buy to make all this and hang them on a belt.

I actually have no idea yet how I'm going to make all this. I would like everything to look well used, distressed, or heavily repaired or modified, to keep with the punk aspect of the genre. Some Google searches on making props or cyberpunk accessories ought to get me started.

As I actually make this stuff, I'll be adding all the how-to and what-I-did, including pictures, to the blog.

Cyberpunk Cosplay  

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I want to think some more about the cyberpunk costume. One of the things that was said at a steampunk costuming panel at Dragon*Con last year was that when making a costume, you should design your character first. An airship mechanic suggests different ideas and accessories than a gentleman adventurer. This strikes me as good advice. Since I am designing my costume from scratch instead of cosplaying as an existing character, coming up with a character concept gives me a framework to build on. It will allow me to decide what kind of clothes the character would wear, what gear and accessories he would carry with him.

So the first thing I need to do is come up with a character. There are several archetypes in cyberpunk. The ones I am interested in are the street samurai, fire support, infiltrator, and the street mage (Shadowrun adds magic to the cyberpunk genre). Hacker is another major archetype in cyberpunk, but that’s too close to my normal life to be interesting to me. Actually, I think I will go ahead and drop the street mage too. Magic is an unusual addition to cyberpunk, and I think without a whole runner team going with me, people might not recognize a street mage for what he is.

That leaves me with two combat based archetypes, and a sneaky bastard. I do so love playing sneaky bastards in paper and pencil RPGs. You can get into (and sometimes out of) so much more interesting trouble than the beat sticks, and I love surviving by skill and wit rather than brawn. The combat archetypes would be more recognizable at a convention, though. But I ought to be able to combine multiple archetypes. The standard bad ass hero has a whole host of skills and abilities, so an infiltrator/fire support character would fit in just fine. And now I’ve talked myself into making the same character I’m playing in Shadowrun right now.

So the concept now is a character who shoots stuff and has a bag of tricks for getting into and out of trouble. That is much more concrete than a generic cyberpunk costume.

Now that I have a concept to work with, it’s time to start thinking about what it will look like. There are a few things to keep in mind when designing any kind of costume for a convention. First, you are going to be wearing it all day. So make sure it’s comfortable to wear and walk around in, without heavy pieces you’re going to have to lug around all day. Second, cons are crowded. Moving through a crowd with large, delicate wings or a giant Sephiroth sword is difficult. Plan accordingly. Thirdly, include pockets, pouches, or some other method of carrying around your assorted keys, wallets, and other goodies you acquire when wandering around the con.

With that in mind, I want to think about the base costume for a bit. By that I mean the general outfit, as separate from the accessories, such as guns and headsets. I don’t want to look like a soldier, so lots of body armor and full BDUs are out. And while I’ve been calling the archetype ‘infiltrator,’ I am envisioning more of a likeable scoundrel with a bunch of tricks up his cybernetic sleeves rather than a stealthy, covert-ops type character. So the outfit doesn’t need to be subtle or commando-ish. One of the ideas that I had when I first thought of the doing a cyberpunk costume was to have a sleeveless long coat. Dusters and trench coats have been a hallmark of the adventurous since the Hollywood western, and the Matrix used them to good effect. And sleeveless because it’s punk. I think this will have a very good chance of being in the final costume.

The question is what to wear underneath it. My first idea was to wear a jumpsuit under the coat. The plain utility of a jumpsuit seems suited to a cyberpunk outfit. Another idea is to wear BDU pants with a T-shirt with a cyberpunk type logo on it, like the Laughing Man icon or a Shadowrun corporate logo. I think either will work. If I can find urban camo pants or a good digital camo I will choose the BDUs over the jumpsuit. I'll need to look around and see what I can find.

Footwear will be the standard heavy black boots.

That will make up the core of my costume. The next step is to think about what gear and accessories I want for the costume. I'll tackle that in a later post.

Of Costumes and Cons  

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Well, it’s less than five months until Dragon*Con and past time for me to be thinking about what costume I want to make for this year. I have made a Final Fantasy XI black mage costume in the past, and have used my medieval warrior costume I built for the Renaissance Fairs, but I think it’s time for a new costume.

I’ve a few ideas bouncing around in my head right now. The first is to make a steampunk costume. I’ve been intrigued by steampunk since I saw the costumes at Dragon*Con a couple years ago. I like the Victorian style dress, particularly the rougher, adventurous style of the old American West. I also like the virtues and ideals of the period. The Art of Manliness goes into both aspects in some detail. But we’re talking steampunk, not straight Victorian fashion and behavior. Steampunk has always put me in mind of the 19th century’s vision of the future, along the lines of Jules Verne and HG Wells. The anachronistic imagining of 20th century inventions using 19th century technology has wonderful visual appeal. I could have a lot of fun making a swashbuckling adventurer.

But I have two problems with steampunk. The first is that I actually know very little about the genre. The only steampunk work I am familiar with is Girl Genius, which is pretty light on the punk aspect. Almost all of my visual references would be costumes from Dragon*Con. Still, imagining a steampunk version of something is pretty easy, even if building it is not. The second problem is that steampunk is very popular at Dragon*Con right now, so my costume wouldn’t stand out. I would have to come up with a unique and detailed implementation to distinguish myself from the crowds. Still, I’m a fan and would enjoy a steampunk costume.

Option two is to make a cyberpunk costume. Steampunk’s futuristic cousin, I love the cyberpunk genre. I am currently playing Shadowrun, and Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite anime series. I have a lot more to draw on than I do with steampunk. It’s also not near as popular at Dragon*Con, so a good cyberpunk costume would really stand out. The problem will be with making a good cyberpunk costume. Cyberpunk tends to be much heavier on the punk aspect of the genre than steampunk is. In making a generic cyberpunk costume, as opposed to cosplaying an actual, recognizable character, I’d have to be careful to not look like a normal goth or punk. Those are quite common at Dragon*Con, so an all black punk outfit with a gun is almost indistinguishable from a plain punk and not recognizable as cyberpunk. I’ve also seen people who look like random paramilitary dudes, something that is likewise not recognizable as cyberpunk, even if it was a copy of the outfits from Ghost in the Shell. I’d love to make a cyberpunk costume, but I’m just not sure how to approach it so that the cyber part of it stands out.

The third idea is to make a Link costume, from Legend of Zelda. Ocarina of Time was one of my favorite N64 games, and Link is an iconic character. As straight cosplay, it would be easier to make a Link costume than inventing my own steampunk or cyberpunk outfit. And while there are always a few Link’s running around Dragon*Con, he is not so common that I would blend in. Plus it would be fun to make some of Link’s equipment. Unfortunately, I have not played a Zelda game since the N64, so I would have to go buy a Wii and every Zelda game out there and play through them.

What? It’s important to do your research.

The final option I am considering is making a Jedi costume. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was old enough to watch movies, and I’ve always wanted to be a space wizard samurai. I would definitely want to build it to the level of quality seen in the Rebel Legion, so I would look into joining their community for costuming help. It wouldn’t be a bad place to start, since they are a costuming group and could give me help and advice.

Those are the ideas I'm considering right now. Since it takes a while to design and make these costumes to an acceptable level of quality, I need to decide soon which one I'm going to make. I'll post further updates as I work things out.

More Home Improvement  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

It's been a long while since I've bothered with the blog. Since it's spring, we'll start off with some garden updates. All the plants I put on the patio last spring are still growing. Most of the ones on the front walk died.

I added a new plant stand to the patio today. I got it at the Winter Garden plant festival, from a place called Nature on the Rocks. Today I planted some azaleas, snapdragons, and some tropical plant whose name I've already forgotten. There is still a lot of room on the stand, but I don't think I'll manage to fill it this year. I want to see what the azaleas do, since they can get quite large.

Last summer, I added a couple of wind chimes to the patio. One is bamboo, from Black Market Mineral, and the other is stained glass, that I got from the Tampa Renaissance Festival. Unfortunately, there is very little breeze down here, so most of the time they hang silent.

I also replaced the plants on the front walk. Most had died when I forgot to get someone to water them while I was out of town. Weeds had since started growing in some of the pots. We'll see how well these do.

There's a few other things I've done to the downstairs, so hopefully I'll remember to update the blog a little more frequently than every nine months.

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